A guest blog by Richard Brea

The Pursuit of Peace and Happiness 

I have been fighting depression, anxiety, and self-harm issues off and on for the past 12 years. Five years ago I moved to Los Angeles to follow my dreams of becoming a published writer. I was happy to be living my dream when I first moved here but unfortunately for me, my happiness was only temporary.

Like most people who struggle with mental health, I fell into substance abuse issues due to my self-medicating behavior. I abused drugs and alcohol to the numb the pain I was feeling on the inside. I would also hurt myself when things got really bad. I seemed so happy and alive on the outside but that was far from the truth. The darkness I was feeling on the inside consumed me. I was a tortured soul living in disguise.

I got into recreational marijuana use after living in LA for two years. It helped tremendously with my anxiety and I was happy I found a much safer and healthier alternative to drinking. Unfortunately for me, my smoking started to spiral out of control. I would smoke multiple times a day and slowly but surely I developed an addiction. My addiction to marijuana forced me to move back to Massachusetts to live with my parents because I was underweight, malnourished, dealing with insomnia and hallucinations, and my anxiety was causing me to experience panic attacks.

Although I hated that I had to move back to Lynn, Massachusetts I knew it was necessary. I had to regroup so I could get sober and clean. Moving back east and living with my parents sent me into a deep depression. I was angry at myself for having to move back home. I couldn’t believe I let my drinking and drug use spiral out of control. I dug myself into a grave but I vowed to get out of it a much stronger and healthier person.

Once I started to pray I felt a change within me. I felt a spiritual awakening occur within the depths of my soul. I was heading back towards to the light and love of Jesus Christ. The same light and love that I was neglecting and pushing away for the past few years. I repented for my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. I spent plenty of nights crying my heart out. Crying because of my sins. Crying because of the love and forgiveness I received from Jesus Christ. Slowly but surely I was becoming a changed man.

To help overcome my anxiety attacks, I started taking medication. I also started seeing a therapist. The combination of therapy and medication helped tremendously. After a couple of months, my doctor told me, "You should be proud of yourself. Not a lot of people can be in the position that you’re in. You should give yourself a pat on the back."

I never take for granted the fact that I am able to do what I want. Like my favorite rapper Drake says, “You can still do what you wanna do, you gotta trust the process.” Even though anxiety kicks my butt on a daily basis, I still go to work. I still write. I volunteer. I love. I smile. I laugh. And sometimes I cry. I fight for my happiness. Every day is a battle and I will never give up because I refuse to be defined by my Borderline Personality Disorder and anxiety. Being sober and drug-free allows me to truly see the beauty of life. I want to be a source of hope and inspiration for people who are or were in a situation like mine.

Although my faith is the sole reason I am sober, I also attribute my sobriety to my nephew Adrian. It breaks my heart thinking about how I used to prefer getting high over spending time with him. He would ask me to play and I would lie and tell him, “Not now, I’m going to sleep.” He would get disappointed and say, “Aw man. Who do you sleep so much? You sleep too much.” I’m happy and proud to say I am no longer that person. What makes me even happier is that my nephew thinks the world of me. For his birthday wish he told my mom and his mother, “I wish Chichi comes back.”

I’m thankful to be living in Los Angeles again. I thought I was done living here but our Heavenly Father is so forgiving. Every day I wake up happy because I’m living my dream. I’m the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been. I have an abundance of self-love and I’m the closest I have ever been with my family. I spent the past few years moving back and forth across the country while searching for love through materialistic items and drugs when the love I needed was right in front of me all along. I have come a long way and I’m thankful for everything I went through because it led to me this very moment of being happy and at peace.

About the author: Richard is 29 years old and living his dream in Los Angeles, CA. His firm belief in Christ and his faith has helped him in his struggles with mental illness. He is a writer and is working to publish his autobiography, Out of the Darkness, later this year. He loves music, movies and reading. He strives to break down the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and disorders by sharing his story. He hopes to inspire the mental health community. Follow Richard on Instagram or email him at: Rbrea1986K@aol.com.

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